Night Shift Page 46

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“Oh, no! No, I’m . . .”

“Crazy about Bobo, I know. And he’s been so broody lately I think he’s screwing himself up to saying something. Did you two have a fight or something? That maybe opened his eyes?”

“We had a falling-out,” Fiji admitted.

“But you’re overlooking another possibility,” Olivia said. She was smiling, too, but she was definitely serious in intent. “The tigers are nuts about you. If you can say tigers are nuts!”

“The Rev?” Fiji was incredulous.

Olivia laughed out loud, which was a sound Fiji had never heard before.

“No, not him. The Quinns, father and son.”

Fiji gaped at Olivia.

“I’m serious,” Olivia said, half-smiling. “You haven’t noticed that John Quinn stays longer and longer when he stops in to visit Diederik?”

“Well, Diederik needs him,” Fiji protested. “That’s why he comes.” But now that she was seeing things through a different lens, she was wondering.

“Riiiiight,” Olivia said, and then wisely held her tongue.

Fiji stared straight forward for a good five minutes, thinking things over, reinterpreting encounters. She shook her head silently a couple of times.

“Of course, Diederik’s too young,” she said.

“Wait around a couple of weeks, he won’t be,” Olivia said, and Fiji laughed involuntarily.

“But I don’t think that’s true, actually,” Fiji said. “Now that he looks in his late teens, it should slow down, Quinn said.”

“Good, because he was going to wrinkle and lose his teeth in a year at that rate of aging.”

“My sister teased me about Diederik, too,” Fiji said. “And she was serious. That is, she was really considering him. But I remember buying him Superman underpants just a few months ago. He’s definitely out of the eligible park. It’s almost like thinking of Grady as a potential future partner.”

“You sure? That Marina at the hotel seems mighty happy. I’m sure she and Diederik are doing the deed, especially after going in there the other night while he was doing janitor work and she was working the desk. I don’t think either of them were exactly working.”

“Why’d you go in?”

“I was being a good neighbor,” Olivia said virtuously. “I noticed one of her tires was low.”

“Did you? Tell her?”

“Oh, yeah. But I’m not sure if she registered what I was saying or not. They both looked pretty self-conscious.”

“Half of me is saying, ‘Oh gosh no, he’s just a baby,’ and the other half is going, ‘Wowsers.’” Fiji shook her head. “I knew they were, ah, seeing each other, but I guess getting a specific instance makes it more real.”

“Well, Quinn should be conflict-free, because he’s definitely mature.”

“No kidding,” Fiji said, looking self-conscious herself.

“Yeah, I thought so,” Olivia said with some satisfaction. “You can’t be immune to his charm. Forget Bobo!”

“Does everyone in town know I’ve always had a crush on Bobo?”

Olivia nodded. “Maybe the Rev hasn’t picked up on it, but he’s not one to care about the feelings of the heart.”

This had been a remarkable talk for both of them, and just as Fiji was thinking, Wow, have I spilled my guts, Olivia seemed to become aware of the same thing. They both fell silent. Fiji had no regrets. It had been fun to talk woman-to-woman. She felt empowered, though the word made her wince a little.

“I’m just gonna tell him,” she said out loud.

“Sure. Long past due,” Olivia said. “You know, I’m the only regular human in Midnight, aside from the people at the hotel. Oh, and Bobo.”

Where did that come from? Fiji wondered. She fumbled with what to say.

“I’m just human,” Olivia said before Fiji could come up with something. “I’m a drastically bad one. But human.”

“So?”

“No, look. You’re a witch, and I don’t think we know the half of what you can do. The Rev, Diederik, Quinn—weretigers. Chuy and Joe—angels. Lemuel—vampire. Manfred is a psychic. The new guy at the gas station, he seems pretty . . . something, I don’t know.”

Fiji couldn’t figure out why Olivia was making such a point of her own ordinariness. Fiji didn’t think Olivia was ordinary at all. She thought Olivia was a sociopath, but one she could get along with. And she felt a little sorry for Olivia sometimes, while in the same moment she understood that Olivia had lethal skills and no qualms about using them.

“Olivia, you’re complex,” Fiji said. “It’s what you are.”

Olivia laughed again. It was already a red-letter day.

When they reached Killeen, they stopped briefly at a gas station to top off the tank and hit the ladies’ room. With the aid of Olivia’s phone, it wasn’t hard to find San Jacinto Street, which was in the older part of downtown, the part with sidewalks and storefronts and angled parking. Olivia found a space a few doors down from Handyman Hardware. The front door of the store had a cartoon of a very muscular man with his arms crossed over his chest, a hammer in one hand and a drill in the other.

“Cute,” Olivia said. But she wasn’t laughing now.

Fiji pushed open the door. The store was old, too, and the tile floor rose and fell a bit. It was dim in the store’s interior past the plate-glass windows, and no one was in sight, even though the bell over the door had issued an electronic bing-bong.

“Be right there!” called a male voice.

Olivia walked over to a display of mailboxes and open and shut several in an experimental way. Fiji was distracted by an array of planters; she wanted to put one on the cement balustrade on her porch. Geraniums or petunias, she thought, and wished she’d brought a tape measure to determine if the longest planter would fit the space. She was actually surprised when the man appeared.

“Hi, can I help you ladies?” he said. He directed his attention to Fiji, who was closest, but naturally, he glanced at Olivia.

Olivia turned around, and Fiji saw him literally twitch, though his face stayed pleasantly expectant. There was no doubt in Fiji’s mind that this man had recognized Olivia. However, Olivia ignored the twitch and followed the cue of the bland expression. Fiji followed her lead.

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